Now that we have discussed possible trade up scenarios, how about we explore what it might look like if the Saints were to buck the trend and trade down. Again, the Saints are at the bottom of the NFL draft with only five selections. If the Saints decided they wanted to pick up some additional draft capital this season, trading down might be their best option to accomplish just that, especially with the potential spoils they could walk away with.
In that earlier article, we looked at some potential trade up scenarios for the Saints. I want to explore the option of the Saints trading down as well. They have not done so since 2007. So you can look at it one of two ways, either they will continue the trend of not trading back, or by law of averages eventually they will do it again. This draft has so much talent at important positions, it could be the right year to do it.
We will look at three trades down with comparable moves from each of the last few years and a cloud of players that could be available at each new draft position. Of course, we have no idea who else will trade up, who will trade down, who will make the big “What?” selection early on, etc. But we can have some fun anyway.
Now the real fun begins. The Saints have only traded down in two drafts since Sean Payton has been in New Orleans. 2006 and 2007, his first two years with the team. In 2006 they did it twice and selected Roman Harper and Carl Nicks with the new selections they received along with Hollis Thomas and Jeff Faine. The following year the selected Usama Young and David Jones. After that, never again. It is important to recognize that none of these three trade downs featured trading out of the first round. Two were trades back or out of the second round and the other was a trade back in the fourth.
So while these scenarios would be unlikely. We will explore them anyway. There are two ways to look at this. Either the Saints will maintain their usual trend of not trading down. Or, it has been so long since they have that they are bound to do so again sometime. if the latter is true, this would be a fantastic class and situation to buck the trend.
Trade Down 1: Stay in the First, add 2020 capital.
We can first explore what a trade down can look like for the Saints if they wanted to stay in the first round. Why would they do that? Simple, get a fifth-year of team control on whichever rookie they select. Keep that in mind, it will come in handy again later.
In last year’s draft, the Green Bay Packers started the draft with pick #30 from the New Orleans Saints. It was the future first that was included in the 2018 Davenport trade. Just as they did with the 2018 first-round selection, they used this selection to move up nine spots with the Seattle Seahawks at pick #21. To do this, it cost them two early fourth-round selections (picks #114 & #118).
The Saints at 24 will not be nine selections ahead of anyone with multiple fourth round picks, but are four selections ahead of a team with two late fourth-rounders.
Ravens Receive: Pick #24
Saints Receive: Picks #28, #129, & #134
Later First Round Targets:
CB Jeff Gladney, CB A.J. Terrell, LB Zack Baun, Edge A.J. Epenesa, Edge Yetur Gross-Matos S Antoine Winfield, Jr., OL Cesar Ruiz, OT Josh Jones
Fourth Round Targets:
LB Logan Wilson, LB Jordyn Brooks, QB Anthony Gordon, CB Amik Robertson, DL Larrell Murchison, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Solomon Kindley, OT Ezra Cleveland
With this, the Saints remain in the first round and in range of basically the same cloud of targets from Trade Up 3 but also pick up a couple of early day 3 selections. They could use those new fourths to either pick up some more mid-round prospects or use them to further enable their habit of trading up later on in the second day.
Trade Down 2: Trade into second, add future capital
Trading out of the first in this year’s draft could be a smart option for a team that only has its biggest needs at deep positions like LB, WR, and offensive line. that happens to be pretty descriptive of the Saints’ current situation. Because of that, trading out of the first is not a terrible choice as long as they are okay missing out on the fifth-year option for their top rookie.
In 2019, the Colts traded back out of the first round with Washington. They moved back 20 selections from #26 to #46 and picked up a future second-round pick. Not a bad look considering that pick ended up turning into #34 overall. The Saints could choose to stack up a little capital for the future to make moving around later on a little easier to navigate or to simply continue to prepare for life after Brees. Keep in mind, the Saints’ future will weight heavily in some of these decisions. Not only because of Brees but also because of other tough decisions down the round based on big extensions from previous successful draft classes.
Bears Receive: Pick #24
Saints Receive: Pick #43 & 2020 Second
Second Round Targets:
WR Denzel Mims, WR Brandon Aiyuk, WR Jalen Reagor, LB Zack Baun, OL Lucas Niang, OL Lloyd Cushenberry III, CB AJ Terrell, CB Noah Igbinoghene, DL Justin Madubuike, S Grant Delpit
With this, the Saints can still grab an impact player at a position of need and store away for the future with another second round pick in next year’s draft. A 2021 pick that is currently mocked (Yes, there are already 2021 mocks out there.) as a top-10 pick in its round.
Trade Down 3: Trade into second, add 2020 capital
This is probably my favorite scenario. It might not result in getting a future second round selection, but what if we could net the Saints two seconds for this year?
I see a lot of people mentioning getting a pair of second round picks in the same year’s draft to move out of the first, but there is actually no evidence in last seven or so seasons of that compensation being an option. However, there is a way to play on the advantage of getting a team back into the first round.
Bears Receive: Picks #24 & #88
Saints Receive: Picks #43, #50, and a 2021 selection
Second Round Targets:
WR Denzel Mims, WR Brandon Aiyuk, WR Jalen Reagor, LB Zack Baun, OL Lucas Niang, OL Lloyd Cushenberry III, CB AJ Terrell, CB Noah Igbinoghene, RB Jonathan Taylor, DL Justin Madubuike, S Grant Delpit
This is much like scenario three from trading up in which the Saints can compile their first and third to move about. While this moves them out of the first round, imagine landing any pair of those guys? On top of that, depending on the future draft capital they land in addition, it may make the Saints feel comfortable enough to move on from a 2021 pick to get back in to 2020’s third round.
To be honest, I cannot find this trade structure in recent history, however it is not out of the question when you consider the draft pick value charts. Also taking into consideration again the importance for another team to get back into the first round does make for an interesting bargaining chip that I am certain Mickey Loomis and the Saints front office would be more than willing to take advantage of.